02 Nov 2010

More Genes or More Agronomists?

More Genes or More Agronomists?
Dr. Paul Fixen, International Plant Nutrition Institute, Brookings, SD
Dr. Achim Dobermann, International Rice Research Institute, Metro Manila, Philippines
ASA-CSSA-SSSA, Oct 31-Nov 3, Long Beach, CA

The Green Revolution in Asia and other parts of the world had its origins in major advances made in research. Documented annual economic benefits from past rice productivity-enhancing research, for example, exceed $19.5 billion. In Southeast Asia alone, any further 5% improvement in rice productivity would result in an annual surplus of more than $2 billion shared by rice consumers (2/3) and rice producers (1/3), and it would lift 8 million people out of poverty. The overarching importance of science for small holders will not change, even with the changing environmental, economic, demographic and social landscape. What can and needs to change is the way rice and other cereal crops are grown, towards more resource-efficient production systems, including diversified systems that may offer additional value. This will require innovations derived from strategic, increased R&D investments.

I will show examples of good agronomic practices from different parts of the world in which it has been demonstrated successfully how, with the right knowledge and science-based principles, true, large and sustainable increases in productivity and resource efficiency can be achieved. They do not require biotechnological interventions, but can work well in tandem with those. Unfortunately, science does not always seem to form the basis for political decisions and ideological movements that seem to prevail in promoting technologies that are not to the benefit of poor farmers and consumers.

Genes or Agronomists.pdfGenes or Agronomists.pdf